A weary Manchester United have a top four spot in their sights, but their lack of depth is causing problems now and will cause even bigger ones in the future…
Manchester United go into the final game of the season in third place and thus favourites to clinch a spot in next season’s Champions League.
They’re unbeaten in the league since the restart, and indeed are unbeaten in the league since January, which would tend to give the impression that things are all rosy.
However, in their last few games they have looked cooked, legs and minds weary as they stumble to the end of this strange season.
And according to Hugh Woozencroft on the Totally Football Show this week, the reason the players are so tired is because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only confident in picking a handful of them.
“They’re flagging, and they have been flagging for a while. If they do reach the Champions League, they will have limped over the line.
“The issue is, and the reason Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t changed his line-up, is that he doesn’t have much trust in anyone outside the starting 11, 12, 13 players. He changed the team massively for the FA Cup game against Norwich, it went to extra-time and they only just got over the line. None of the fringe players put themselves in the position to say ‘I should be playing in the Premier League.’
“I made a list of players I wouldn’t mind if they left, and it’s pretty much half the squad. What’s the value of Phil Jones being paid over £100,000-a-week to either be injured or terrible? Nemanja Matic has improved, but if he left and someone like Thomas Partey came in then I think Manchester United fans would be delighted.
“Eric Bailly – perennially injured. Luke Shaw has been there six years, but isn’t going to add much to where United want to go. Juan Mata’s not going to contribute from here on out. I wouldn’t be annoyed if Victor Lindelhof left.
“So what do you do with all those players? They’re not all going to leave during a transfer window where many clubs have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. A lot of these players are risks because of their salaries: who’ll want to pay Jesse Lingard’s salary at the moment?”
A win over Leicester on Sunday will be enough for third place and a draw would seal that top four spot. But what if they lose?
“It would be another sign, if they miss out on the Champions League, that something isn’t quite right. As much as Solskjaer and a few results and players like Mason Greenwood coming through can mask that – to be so far off Manchester City and Liverpool.
“They need to bridge the gap, and the idea of being in the Europa League is probably the thing that strikes most fear into United fans.”
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